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It was on a cold Sunday morning when I was invited to “The Cave”, it was a normal day filled with sweat and torture, I had seen Lucy and Dave on two different occasions that morning, I was angered by the way they were treated, tortured, and I kept blaming myself for their mishap. They were both stubborn, so they were always locked in far apart cages prior to their labor. I was the gentle one among us three but I was the warrior.
On the night I was captured, I had taken down 7 men, and was about to do more but then I saw the Master, he was but a child, I had compassion, I became weak, that’s when they took my right eye. When they threatened to kill Lucy and Dave my resistance mellowed and I was brought to my feet, the ultimate defeat, well so they thought.
When I arrived The Cave it was filled to the brim as usual, filled with hate and blood thirsty cowards. I was brought to the fore front where sentimental judgements were made. I had challenged the Master to a duet (a fight to death), countless times and was turned down almost always, but on that day, my request was finally granted as his followers started to doubt his ability to be courageous.
To get to the master I had to bring down his two best protectors, they might have thought so well about themselves because they couldn’t believe it when I had them on their knees and to an early grave in less than a minute. There was no escaping this, I wanted the master and I had earned it…
A week before this day, I had noticed that they kept poisoning my food. The food was in poor taste and look so I noticed the black deadly chilies. I had expected this earlier so I was already prepared, I always saved fruits in my crotch and ate them even when they were almost rotten on days I was starved, so it was easy to pretend I was eating their poison. I was already wondering when they would kill me before I brought their master to his feet. They knew I was a threat so why were they keeping me alive. I had denounced my loyalty to the group a long time ago and I was certain of my decision. I’m sure they wanted to use me as a weapon because they saw my rage and dreaded it.
The master was brought to his feet in less than two minutes and was begging for his life. I couldn’t risk it again, this was the revenge I had sought for a long time, this was what would free my best friends, Lucy and Dave, this was my freedom, so I took it.
As soon as I took his life, I started to see how barbaric I had become, I was now the enemy I dreaded, because I wasn’t satisfied I wanted to take more lives, i was becoming the monster I had hated, but I felt relieved, as I stood over his corpse With my eyes closed, I started to recount every step I had taken in my life that brought me to this very point, the path I had chosen, the path to destruction and hatred.
This is how it all began…
“Be careful what you commit to” those are the only words I keep at heart and stick to because it was that of a dying father who had quite a lot of experience in both the good and the bad. At death he was a mechanic, but before then he was a dismissed soldier in the Nigerian army. He was only a boy at age 18 when he joined the Nigerian army in 1960 and as much as I want to tell how and why he did that, I can’t, because my father was a reserved man, he never told us anything. My father had three wives and I’m the only surviving son of the third, my mother. We lost my elder brother and best friend in an accident when my father had taken him on a journey to where he never revealed to us. My step siblings and their mothers had left my father as soon as he lost his job as a soldier, because according to our eldest mother, they didn’t feel safe living outside the barracks. So they got married to other soldiers to maintain their status as wives of soldiers. Only my mother had followed my dad to his then frustrating life, because she was clearly in love.
I grew up in the sleazy area of Ajegunle in Lagos state Nigeria, where I was exposed to the true nature of a suffering class citizen. My mother was the wife of a dismissed soldier who cared only about himself and how he would get drunk and visit brothels from time to time with the little money he got from extortion. Yes! My dad was an armed robber, and a brutal one, I once watched him take the life of an innocent man who recognized him in a bus robbery I was forced to partake in; I was there only to hold his bag. My father trusted nobody, so he robbed alone, except for days he deduced money would be much, and his only partner was a little boy (me), he usually paid me after an operation with him to keep my mouth sealed. It was our Neighbour Baba Segun he killed. I remember Baba Segun had traveled to Ibadan a neighboring state to seal a deal with a coca-cola company to transport their beverages to Lagos. I can’t remember why and how but I remember Segun telling me about the reason for his travel. I had to deal with the trauma of watching a man beg for his life with tears as a child, and plus my father threatened to kill me if I ever told anyone, and that got me thinking; maybe this is how my elder brother died, because despite the fact that we were told he was involved in an accident, we never saw his corpse. I never revealed the death of Baba Segun to anyone because I wanted to live.
Growing up in Ajegunle gave me insight to all drug deals; their seasons, customers, effect and it’s worth when law enforcement caught up with you. This insight only made me careful, not scared cos I needed the money to take care of a now divorced mother, or should I say driven away mother. My father caught my mother in bed with one of his old time pals, uncle James who was still in the army at the time, and although she was wrong, I don’t blame her. The fight caused my father his right toes. When the fight got serious uncle James shot my father on the leg; which turned out to be a great thing, cos I remember my dad became a mechanic after he recovered from that incident until his death. My dad tried winning my mother back so many times, he had even gotten my Aunt, Aunty Suzy (my mothers elder sister) to convince her when he was changed, but she blatantly refused. I tried so much not to get caught because I knew what that would have done to my mother. I was only 13 when I started selling narcotics and because people knew my father in the area I was never harassed.
Following our dismissal from the barracks I had dropped out of secondary school while in Jss1, but now my mother had gathered up money and felt it was time to take me back into the line of success. Little did she know that this was going to be the birth of my so called journey…
School is meant to be the path to success and a responsible life, but it was the beginning of my problems. Towards the end of my secondary education I was feared by my mates, seniors and teachers alike, because it was rumored that I was a bloody killer (by then I had only killed chickens and goats for eating). And I think it all began when some of my seniors where beaten up at a joint where I secretly sold hard drugs and narcotics. They had met me there and wanted to bully me because they were plenty in number and I was the quiet type. That day they found out how well known and respected I was in the under world (The Cave). I was respected at The Cave because I had a reputation of not being caught by Law enforcements for years of being a drug dealer (my story had circulated) and I was involved in their underground fight business (this was how they sourced funds for themselves) as a fighter. I was called Ghost Mode on the streets. But I wasn’t interested in their affairs, I was only there to do business and get out. I had dreaded the kind of person my father was, and I had sworn not to be like him no matter what my condition was. The fearing me was a good reputation because I was free to do whatever I wanted, so I didn’t admit or deny the allegations, and plus I was the reserved type, didn’t want to be disturbed. It was at this period in life that I met Lucy and Dave.
Lucy was an orphan who grew up on the streets of Surulere around Games village in Lagos state, Nigeria. She lived in a temporary MoPol (Mobile Police) tent in the heart of Games village, because her parents who were MoPol’s died in a raid against one of the deadliest armed robbery group of the 80’s in Bendel state, (the now present Edo state in Nigeria). After their death she had no where to go and was taken care of by the Mobile Policemen who camped there. Although temporary, that tent had lasted decades in that part of Lagos state and housed a lot of mobile police men and women. That was the part of Lagos that gunshots were heard without cause. I remembered when I first visited Lucy there, I was asked to undergo a punishment for just looking at a naked female police officer. I didn’t peek at her, she was there in the open, although in the large tent. The tent was a really big one, it housed about 30 bunk spaces and corners for the MoPol’s, and could be used for a game of hide and seek. Anyway when I was asked to frog jump, Lucy was frustrated and told me not to, she stood on her ground and nothing happened to me. It was then I realized how stubborn she could be and decided to name her a best friend.
Dave was the son of a politician, he was our back bone when it came to spending, and although I had money too from my business, I couldn’t match up with his type of spending. Dave was what we call the black sheep of his family. He was arrogant even to us at first till I treated that glitch with some beating. We became best friends when I saved him from being harassed by some area boys (hoodlums) where he lived at Victoria Island who wanted to teach him a lesson, “lesson that I had already taught him? No way that was my job not theirs”. I had broken their leaders leg after a battle they steered up. I love fighting with a crowd because it’s easier to be more flexible than just focusing on one person. They were 5 in number and I had them all to their feet, all of them bleeding, with one of them leaving with a broken leg. Dave was impressed and tagged me his body guard, but we were more of best friends. Dave would later on get to rent us a 5 room apartment in Surulere where the three of us would stay while we schooled in the University of Lagos. We were inseparable…
The Cave was actually located at Surulere where I ran my secondary education and was later inherited by the son of its founder (Baba Alaye) at the age of 11 years when Baba Alaye died. I took Lucy and Dave to the ceremony at The Cave. The Cave was like a village on its own, an underground locality created by the blowing up of rocks (mountain) back in the 40’s when the government hunted rocks, it was later deserted and found by Baba Alaye’s uncle who was a street tout then and wanted to create his own locality in the heart of a now thriving civilization. The hands of power had then changed and nothing was ever going to be the same again…
Alaye Seun aka the Master grew up in an environment not suitable for kids, The Cave. His father didn’t go to school but found a way for his child to be educated, Home school. Baba Alaye was scared of his past, so he feared for his son Seun’s life and raised him up with an iron hand restricting his movements to only the house. Although raised under a strict dad, the Master had freedom to interact with his father’s workers/loyalists who brainwashed him with ideologies that went against his father’s principles. His father’s thriving business was local wrestling and taxing people like me who brought illicit substances to his locality, (the Cave was the best place to sell these stuffs and had a very tight security) And although the community was like a cult, it had nothing to do with killings because Baba Alaye was a principled man. Baba Alaye had once asked why I do the things I did “my son, you no get papa?, I see say you dey go school, wettin you come dey find again?” At first I told him I was an orphan but then he laughed. Unknown to me he knew my father (the man had a way of showing himself everywhere he went, negatively), plus Baba Alaye had a reputation of knowing everything and everyone in Lagos (I later got to know this), he had a very strong network, and my father was still alive at the time, he didn’t say anything then because I was with friends, but one day when I came to the Cave alone, he called me aside and told me his story and how he strived through life under his uncle who had owned the Locality he owns now. He said “I been no get papa like you wey even get mama join”… I was surprised “but my uncle, him na my papa, I get all this thing because I follow am jeje” in my mind I was like “you don’t know my father”. We discussed at length and he gave me an advice to hold on to my father while he was still alive. So I respected him as a father. This was why I had felt the urge to respect the Master, but he decided to do the unmentionable and converted The Cave into a blood thirsty cult with him being a supreme leader.
Lagos had never witnessed a regime of terror under a boy that young who had the power to control a large number of followers. His father had seen the heart of the men who surrounded him and tried to take power away from them. That’s why he initially named his son his successor, but didn’t know he would die before the boy would grow so he could teach him the right path. The path to understanding leadership and humanity. Baba Alaye died of hypertension, and although it was medically proven I had still smelt foul play and a plot. This man had sponsored the children of most of his so called loyalists to go to school and even had some of this children take home lessons with his son, the Cave was a haven for people who had no parents, shelter and a way to feed themselves, a place where street hustlers came to make a living, but all that soon changed. The Master was killing innocent people, using women for rituals, ending law enforcement officials without fear, and this was the work of his father’s so called loyalists. Although In the few years that followed the death of his father, the Master had been kind, gentle and generous, although ambitious but calculative. When I saw some of this traits and knew people that surrounded him I decided to get close to him to teach him how to survive without a father because I never had one (my father was dead to me even before he died).
The streets of Lagos had a way of changing ones mentality. I had grown up as a kid who knew his father was into a lot of dangerous activities, so it was hard for me to succumb to fear, I had seen deaths, I had grown up in a barrack where unmentionable activities flooded, i once watched a military man killed by cars on an expressway because he felt he was strong enough to cross it. As a military man, my dad had stabbed an area boy (hoodlum) on the chest in our presence when the man wanted to ****** our eldest mothers purse, in Alaka when we visited a family friend at Bode Thomas and were returning home. We see fresh corpse every single day. My father once denied me as his son when some policemen caught me in an attempt to steal a television set which was obviously my father’s operation, it was my mother who bailed me hours later from the police custody. so I grew up knowing hate, segregation, oppression and rejection, but didn’t succumb to it’s calling until I decided to join the new cult at “The Cave”…
Life has a way of turning things around and placing guilt in the mind of the man who decides to be a judge. I was initiated into the cult called “lati iho kan” translated “from a Cave”, with the intent of being a god father to Seun, I had plans to help him see the streets as it was and teach him the balance of life, but I was wrong, I was the one that got to learn a new way of life
Towards Christmas time and the day the Master turned 17 on December 23rd I was invited for a makeover birthday, as I was made to believe, in his personal crib at The Cave. I was in my final year in the University and things where already falling in favor for me. I lived in a 5 bedroom flat with Lucy and Dave, had my first car, and I had boys who ran the streets selling my narcotics. I had created a little empire for myself, my connection and network had become so strong it affected my relationship with two of my step siblings who were in the army, and Emmanuel my eldest brother who was a police officer wanted to lock me up when he saw Indian hemp in my bag, but found out how powerful I had become, and although he has a grudge against me I feel the opposite towards him.
My father had five sons (including Amos who had died when we were in the barracks) and two daughters. Our eldest mother had three kids for my father; Emmanuel the first born, Suzan the second and then Timothy the third. I had wondered how she could convince her husband to marry her with all those kids. My father’s second wife had a son James the fourth and a daughter Grace fifth, and then i the seventh and last born. Amos the sixth had died in a car accident when we were still young.
As soon as I reached the Masters home and placed my hands on the door knob, my heart skipped a beat, it wasn’t the amount of cars I had seen outside, because the Cave always had enough visitors daily, I knew something was wrong. Being the hot headed person that I am ignored my instincts and still went in. The setting was not like anything I’d ever seen, red and black curtains flooded the walls, candles were used to replace electric bulbs. The number of people present at the meeting were,
Baba Sukanmi – a well known chief priest
Asiwaju – Baba Alaye’s former and now the Masters’ adviser
Rambo – the Masters protector one
Doctor – the Masters protector two
Representatives of the four section of lati iho kan, (1)oke apakan (2) arin apakan (3) apakan kekere and (4) apakan apakan each represented by 4 members.
3 Elders known as, awọn onise ipinnun, and
4 ladies in their early twenties, naked and blind folded. We were 25 in number excluding the 4 ladies who were blindfolded and crying.
I was invited in by two hefty men, i was given a red muffler to place on my neck, and I was ushered in to my designated sit. What happened that day was very barbaric, I had never seen anything like it in my life before.
The Master said he needed protection from his enemies and he was now going through the process of fortification, and according to Baba Sukanmi, there was no other day more suitable than on his birthday. I sat and watched for hours excruciating activities. I recognized one of the girls, I had given her a lift once and we had exchanged numbers, when we got to talking she had told me she was the bread winner of her family who lived in a village in Kogi state. As she cried and begged for her life, my mind drifted back to Baba Segun’s incident with my father, the trauma is different if it is a familiar face. There was nothing I could do, and when her blind fold was taken off she had kept looking around for salvation, and when our eyes locked it became the worst day of my life, she thought I could save her, she tried to run towards me but was pinned down. She didn’t take her eyes off me while she was dismembered and I have lived with that incident my whole life…
To be continued…
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